Mark Davis on the Horse Racing Industry

Mark Davis gave the understanding agriculture class a guest lecture on the horse racing industry in Delaware, beginning with a brief history of the sport. Horse racing is one of the oldest of all American sports and has gone under nearly zero changes to the practice over centuries. From the 12th century, when English knights returned from the crusades with Arabian horses, to 1989, when horse racing was at its peak as the second most widely attended spectator sport behind baseball, worth over 9.14 billion dollars. Currently, the U.S. stats for horse racing consist of 9.2 million horses and 4.6 million Americans that are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees, and volunteers. This business has a direct economic effect of 39 billion dollars annually. The horses are used for racing, showing, recreation, etc., and accounts for 9,222,847 horses in total that are related to the business. Most would assume that this sport is only for the wealthy, but it actually holds a diverse amount of people with different financial backgrounds. Recreational and show horse riders, moderate-income track, and show employees, as well as volunteers, are some examples. Not to mention that over 46% of these horse owners have an income between $25,000 to $75,000 annually. He also showed us the history of Delaware horse racing and the current regulations of it, which comprises of overseeing all aspects of each race as well as the tracks and paddocks. There must be post-race testing on winners and a pre-race blood gas analysis. Riders must be drug tested as well. Economically, horse racing contributes nearly $182 million and support of over 1,540 jobs in Delaware. Which is positive when considering citizens who need a job. The horse racing industry is definitely not as popular as it used to be in the ’80s, but it does have a social and economic impact on the U.S. and even the state of Delaware on its own.

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